I Got To Show You Grace, by Kelly O’Dell Stanley

I GOT TO SHOW YOU GRACE!

by Kelly O’Dell Stanley

One Sunday morning when our son, Bobby, was six, he left our pew and walked straight to the front of the church, up the steps onto the platform, right in the middle of our worship. Pastor Nathan was sitting in a chair off to the side, putting the finishing touches on his sermon notes. Bobby circled around the worship leader, ignored the musicians, and climbed into the seat next to Nathan. With a sigh, he leaned back and then scooted to the edge of the chair. The big smile and hug Nathan gave him weren’t a surprise—Nathan had taught all the children that they were always welcome to come up front. That day, as I watched through tears, I finally understood the beauty of having direct access to God. Knowing that He welcomes me, and you, with joy. No matter who’s watching.

That’s what the Bible means when it says, “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

It’s a perfect picture of how we are to approach God. Boldly, with the faith of a child. Not hesitating, not being hindered by all the reasons we—or someone else—might think we’re not worthy to be up there right next to the King. All that matters—the only thing—is that He loves us. He could be annoyed by the interruptions; He could shush us and say that he has more important things to do. But He doesn’t.

Some people have trouble coming to God because they don’t feel worthy. They quote scriptures like Psalm 22:6 (“But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!”). Their understanding of mankind’s (general) and their own (specific) sin, paired with an awareness of the holiness of God, cripples them, making them afraid to trust that He really wants them. Because they are convinced they don’t deserve to be there.

Somehow, I didn’t have that same struggle. I knew I couldn’t earn my way to a relationship with God, but like my son, I approached God with confidence. I took the Scriptures at face value: “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners …  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:8-12)

But then.

My mom was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer and I started a three-year roller-coaster ride. I claimed to have faith, but I was as dry and parched as a desert inside. When it came time to pray, I had nothing to say. Bitterness and sorrow and pain replaced any words I might have had. After Mom died, I built the walls even higher—fortifying them, adding a moat filled with alligators, for good measure—to protect myself from being hurt again. I rolled my eyes when someone at church would stand up and testify that they had been healed. Or even that they believed in healing.

I wasn’t sure if God didn’t answer or if He gave me the wrong answer. I began to doubt whether He was able to effect change at all. I hadn’t just lost Mom. Not to sound overly dramatic, but I’d lost everything I believed in. My grief made me incapable of seeing the truth. And the fickleness of my faith filled me with shame.
I had ceased to be the child approaching God without hesitation, or even the temperamental teenager stamping her foot and refusing to look at Him—and turned into that lowly earthworm. Why would God want me back? Once I realized how much I wanted—needed—Him, I didn’t feel like I had the right to ask Him. Because I had rejected Him before.

And then one Sunday morning at church we sang a song that broke through my defenses. “Through it all, through it all… I learned to trust in Jesus, I learned to trust in God.” I felt the walls crumbling as I thought-prayed, “No I didn’t. I failed miserably. Lord, I’m so sorry.”

Immediately I felt His response. “But I got to show you grace!

Notice, He didn’t say that He had to. Nor that He did it grudgingly. Instead, it was like our magnificent, holy God was a little child Himself, hopping from one foot to the other, giddy with excitement at the gift He was thrilled to give me.

The one I didn’t deserve.

But that didn’t matter to God. All that mattered was that He wanted me back. He allowed me to march right up to that altar and lean into Him, to scoot close to the edge of His chair. To look into His face and see the kindness in His smile.

And to take a deep breath of relief, knowing I was right where I belonged. Filled with, wrapped in, emboldened by, and surrounded by His unfathomable grace.

 

stanley_kelly_high resBIO: Kelly O’Dell Stanley is a graphic designer, writer, and author of Praying Upside Down: A creative PUD cover finalprayer experience to transform your time with God. With 25 years of experience in advertising, three kids ranging from 21 to 14, and a husband of 24 years, she’s learned to look at life in unconventional ways—sometimes even upside down. In 2013, she took top honors in Writer’s Digest’s Inspirational Writing Competition. Full of doubt and full of faith, she constantly seeks new ways to see what’s happening all around her in her small-town Indiana home. Download free prayer prompt calendars at www.prayingupsidedown.com.

If you’d like to purchase Kelly’s new book, “Praying Upside Down” you can pick up a copy here: AmazonBarnes & Noble,  christianbooks.com, Lifeway, Books-a-Million, Target, Parable, iTunes, and others.

You can also find Kelly here:

Blog: www.prayingupsidedown.com
Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/ KellyODellStanley
Twitter @kellyostanley
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ kellyostanley/

Book Review: The Day I Met Jesus

The Day I Met Jesus

 

My Thoughts About the Book:

The Day I Met Jesus – The Revealing Diaries of Five Women from the Gospels will absolutely change the way you read your Bible and the way you will see, hear, smell and feel the love of Jesus in your everyday. I wept as I read through their stories. Mary DeMuth brings such depth, character and insight into the every day lives of these 5 women. Yes, chances are that you’ve read about them and maybe even “know of them” but after reading this book you will have a heart to heart connection with these women like you never dreamed you could.

I love the pairing of Mary’s storytelling with the heart and passion pursuit of truth, details and facts that Frank Viola brings to the table. I never would have dreamed that this partnership would be so amazing, but after reading, soaking, enjoying and devouring this book I would say that it was a divine connection.

Run, don’t walk to wherever you need to go to get a copy of this book. I have treasured my time in it and can’t wait to go back and re-read it again. As a women’s ministry leader this one book that I’m absolutely going to make sure every woman I know hears about. It’s really just that amazing! Well done Mary & Frank, this was spot on incredible!

About the book:

Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ met face-to-face with people just like you. Broken, imperfect, sometimes fearful and without hope. The Day I Met Jesus is a beautifully crafted narrative that chronicles the remarkable encounters of five women in the Gospels who were desperate to find wholeness, security, and purpose. Like all of us, these women struggled with the regrets of their pasts, the stresses of their presents, and the worries of their tomorrows.

Join Mary DeMuth and Frank Viola on a fascinating journey back in time as they retell the dramatic accounts of five women who met Jesus. Each narrative is told from each woman’s unique perspective, yet tightly grounded in the Gospel accounts and faithful to first-century history. Elegantly written and profoundly stirring, this book blends creative narrative with uncommon insight, spiritual depth, and practical application.

If you are someone who seeks a renewal of hope, faith, and love, The Day I Met Jesus will make your Bible come to life and usher you into a fresh encounter with your Lord.

You can purchase a copy of the book here.

About the Authors:

FrankViola-LargerFrank Viola has helped thousands of people around the world to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including God’s Favorite Place on Earth and From Eternity to Here. His blog, frankviola.org, is ranked in the top ten of all Christian blogs on the Web today.
marybw
Mary DeMuth is a former church planter in France and the author of more than sixteen nonfiction and fiction books. A sought-after speaker and longtime blogger, she has overcome (through Jesus’s healing) a difficult childhood full of neglect, abuse, and familial dysfunction to become a living example of what it means to live uncaged. She lives in Texas with her family.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

Book Review: Undone, by Michele Cushatt

Undone_MicheleCushatt

My Thoughts About the Book:

My thoughts about this book are truly hard to articulate, I would have to say it is one of the most moving, authentic, and transparent books that I have ever read. Michele has a unique ability to write where it doesn’t feel like you are reading someone else’s story, but rather that you are sitting in a comfy chair at the local coffees shop just catching up with a good friend.

I love that she had the good, the bad and the ugly all in the stories she shared, her real life “stuff” and yet through it all there wasn’t a sense of bitterness or resentment, but rather the whole thing was sprinkled with grace, hope, laughter and love. I’ve “known” Michele online for many years now and have always enjoyed that she’s been real about her faith, her struggles and her life, but this book, Undone was a peek into her heart and for that I am grateful. Grateful for her strength, her faith and her willingness to take us all on the journey with her.

If you’re living an unexpected life right now, or if you love someone that is living that season of life, then you don’t want to miss out on this book. It will be a comforting friend while you travel on your bumpy road — you will laugh at loud at times and also bust out crying, but through it all you will see Jesus…and that, my friends, is why I love this book so much! Do yourself a favor and grab a copy today!

About the book:

Undone is author Michele Cushatt’s quest to make peace with a complicated life. It is an honest confession of a diagnosis of cancer and the joys and disappointments of motherhood and marriage, ripe with regret over what is and, yet, still hopeful for what could be.

With enough humor to ease the rawness of the story, Undone takes the reader on a roller coaster two-year journey through the unexpectedness of life. A look back makes Michele long for a do-over, the chance to make fewer mistakes and leave less of a mess to clean up. A look forward makes Michele wonder if all her attempts to control life have robbed her of the vibrancy of it. And, in the middle of this internal chaos, she finds her once-pristine house filled with the sights and sounds of three small, uncontainable children who just want to be loved.

In the end, Undone turns complication into a beautiful canvas, angst into joy, and the unknown into an adventure, revealing that sometimes life’s most colorful and courageous stories are written right in the middle of the mess.

If you’d like to pickup a copy, you can purchase Undone here

About the Author:

MicheleCushattA storyteller at heart, Michele Cushatt inspires audiences with the warmth of her transparency and presence. Her unique style makes you feel like you just spent an afternoon with a good friend, sparking tears one moment and laughter the next. Having experienced both the best and worst of life, she’s unafraid to disclose her imperfect spaces, so that you know you’re not alone in yours.

Michele and the love of her life, Troy, live in Colorado with their six children, ages 7 to 22. She enjoys a good novel, a long run, sleeping in the sun, and a kitchen table filled with people.

 

undone2

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: To Win Her Favor, by Tamera Alexander

TameraAlexanderCover

My Thoughts About the Book:

I absolutely loved this book, full of history, witty banter, faith that God has a perfect plan, and strong family bonds made this a book that I just could not put down. I loved the spunk of the characters — both Maggie and Cullen had their own endearing qualities and I found myself rooting for them to just stop running from what was put before them. How many times can we say the same things for ourselves? Pretty often, I know in my case.

I hadn’t realized how much historical accuracy was also involved in this book, Tamera did an amazing job of taking us back to that season of life in “the south” — the good, bad and ugly were all there, but even in those times we saw glimpses of grace and the fact that there was a cord of hope woven throughout was just what was needed to make sure this book didn’t settle on the tough stuff but simply had it there in the context of what was going on in the characters lives.

Great book! Loved it, especially being a Kentucky girl who grew up in “the south” and around the whole horse world — would love to see what is in store next for Tamera Alexander and her friends in her books.

About the book:

To Win Her Favor (Zondervan, May 2015)

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail—Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

You can purchase a copy here: http://bit.ly/1OYbn27

About the author:

TameraAlexander

Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville, Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don’t forget Jack, their precious—and precocious—silky terrier.

Find Tamera online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sometimes You Just Need To Remember That You Are Not Alone

YouAreNotAlone_MelissaMashburn

Dear one, I see you there struggling to make ends meet. Trying to make things make sense and just clear your head from all the distractions pulling on you right this very minute. Your mind is racing and you begin to wonder how you even got to this place, but here’s one thing you need to know – you are not alone.

I know it might feel like it at times.

Believe me I know.

That’s just not the truth though. Oh yeah, sure. the enemy is going to do his best to try to get you to give up hope. To feel lost. To isolate yourself. To just plain give up. But don’t because there’s a truth that you need to grab hold of — not just in your head, but also in your heart.

Our Heavenly Father is madly, deeply in love with you and He wants to rescue you from the pain that has a grip on your heart.

He wants you to know that…You are not alone.

Yes, I know that it’s easy to believe the lies that you are alone. I also know that the stress, pressure and stuff weigh heavy on your heart. To the point that some days it is hard to even get out of bed. I get that, because I’ve been there too.

I know what it’s like to;

– feel like I’m the only one going through this difficult situation.
– think that no one would love me or accept me if they knew me, I mean really knew me.
– believe that people would abandon me if they saw the scars from my pain or my past.
– hurt from deep down in my soul and wonder why this is happening to me.

Yes, I my friend, I am just like you.

Our stories and struggles might not be the same, but this much is true. How we “feel” doesn’t decide how we are loved or if we are lonely. As Lysa TerKuerst so eloquently says in her book Unglued, “my feelings are indicators, not dictators”.

Sweet friend, whatever you are going through right now you must grab hold of this — You never have been and you never will be alone.

You want to know how I know?

 

Then join me over at the Internet Cafe Devotions site… click here to read the rest of the post.

orangelogo

 

 

 

Oh…maybe you are like me and you like to have these reminders for your phone or for your Instagram, then here’s a pic that is sized perfectly to share just for YOU. You are more than welcome to snag it for yourself. Enjoy! :)

ICDevo_March2015_IGsize